Queens lawmaker pushes for more funding for mental health professionals in public schools – QNS.com
Congresswoman Jessica González-Rojas, along with other lawmakers and advocates, is calling on the state legislature to increase funding for mental health professionals in the 2022 executive budget.
As the american surgeon general issued an advisory on youth mental health amid the COVID-19 crisis, lawmakers doubled down on their call for increased funding. Invoice S1969/A5019, sponsored by González-Rojas, would allocate a social worker and a psychologist to each school district. Currently, there are schools that don’t even have a mental health professional.
González-Rojas said this issue is personal to him.
As a mother of school-age children in Jackson Heights, the congresswoman said she wants all children to be able to get the help they need as they battle the isolation that comes with the pandemic.
“I want our children to be healthy while they learn in our schools and to be able to get the help they need as they fight the isolation caused by the pandemic, as well as other issues like racial inequality that are clearer than ever in our borough and in our state,” González-Rojas said. “But this issue should be important to all of us who want our children to be well. As we know, it takes a village to raise our children and this will help us do it more.
Last year, the MP began visiting schools in her district, asking principals and staff what they thought were the greatest needs. González-Rojas said many are concerned about the mental health of their students.
“This is consistent with the federal government and national groups declaring a youth mental health crisis across our nation with an increase in suicidal ideation and symptoms of depression and anxiety among our young people,” a- she declared. “Increasing the number of social workers and psychologists in school districts across the city and state will help us ensure that students are assessed and have mental health services to support them.”
Advocates and lawmakers hope these measures will be put in place after Governor Hochul announced a $2.1 billion increase in funding for schools.
“We will continue to build support as we head towards the April budget deadline for staffing to be funded and legislation to pass,” González-Rojas said.
New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta said students thrive academically as long as their social and emotional needs can be met.
“Every district needs the right staff to not only get a handle on the current mental health crisis among our students, but also to provide the proactive support needed to ensure every student is ready to learn,” Pallotta said.